Pastor: Stroger weak even among blacks

May 11, 2009

Todd Stroger Cook County Board President Todd Stroger looks feeble after last week's lopsided vote to repeal his 1 percent sales-tax hike. The lone votes against the repeal came from the three African American commissioners in the room. Now that Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has voiced support for the repeal and shown a willingness to publicly criticize Stroger, I'm wondering how long the president's black allies can afford to stick with him. Rev. Marshall Hatch of New Mt. Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, one of the largest congregations here on the West Side, predicts many African Americans will distance themselves from Stroger if that's what it takes to remain in Daley's good graces. "Todd is just weaker," Hatch says. "Daley has perfected the art of filling his campaign coffers with money from the business community. His tentacles go all the way to Barack Obama's White House, and that neutralizes the black community." BARNSTORMER Rep. Luis Gutiƒ©rrez (D-Chicago) has received some unflattering media attention in his hometown lately. The Chicago Tribune investigated his real estate deals, and WBEZ reported on his campaign contributions from the payday lending industry. In other parts of the country, Gutiƒ©rrez is getting better press. A lengthy Washington Post profile describes him as a passionate barnstormer who's pushing President Obama to help lay a path to citizenship for the nation's estimated 12 million unauthorized immigrants. The Congressman wrapped up a 21-city tour on the issue with a rally this weekend at Chicago's McCormick Place. ESL NEEDS The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights today is releasing a report about the need for more English instruction in the state. We got a draft in advance. It says more than 575,000 adults in Illinois struggle with English yet Illinois Community College Board-funded programs offered only 69,689 English as a Second Language slots last year--down 20 percent from 2002. The draft says only 36 percent of ESL students in the system gain at least one proficiency level each year. TROUBLE FOR WHOM? A Detroit-based monthly newsletter that's devoted to "putting the movement back into the labor movement" came to town this weekend to lead a workshop series it called the "Chicago Troublemakers School." What exactly did Labor Notes try to teach the roughly 200 "troublemakers" who attended? The workshop titles included "Defending Immigrant Workers," "Bargaining Through Crisis and Concessions" and "Changing Your Union from Within."